The majority of workplaces across the country must maintain a safe workplace according to standards and regulations set forward by OSHA. It is OSHA’s mission to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA has also issued a memorandum that states employers must present training and instructions in a language and vocabulary the employee can understand.
With the number of Spanish-speaking workers in the job force, especially those working in industrial or manufacturing sectors, it is important that they too receive comprehensive safety training; even if the worker speaks English as a second language, it can be helpful to still receive training in their native language. By offering Spanish training materials, employees will be more likely to comprehend and retain critical safety information. It will also offer an opportunity for workers to get their safety questions fully answered.
If a workplace has Spanish-speaking employees on their workforce, it is important to include Spanish on signs for emergency exits and emergency routes. Evacuation plans should be translated into Spanish and given to workers as well as posted in the appropriate locations. Other important safety signs and labels should also have a translation of text on it, or a Spanish sign or label placed right next to it.
Providing safety information, education, and training is an important job. Ensuring all workers understand your facility’s safety procedures and hazards will ensure they are kept safe. If your workforce includes Spanish-speaking individuals it is critical to evaluate how your safety program is accommodating them. Adding bilingual employees to the safety committee is great first step to gather resources and advice on making a safety program that can be understood by all.